Action / Biography / Drama / History / Romance
Action / Biography / Drama / History / Romance
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Fictionalized biopic of famed 17th century Italian painter Michelangelo Merisi de Caravaggio. As a young man, he gained the support of Cardinal Del Monte and Caravaggio proceeded to develop a new style of painting giving a more realistic view of the world in which he lived. He also begins love affairs with one of his models, Ranuccio as well as with Ranuccio's girlfriend Lena. Their relationship leads to murder and deceit. —garykmcd.
Uploaded By: FREEMAN
Aug 15, 2021 at 05:37 PM
grade Movie Reviews
Absolutely exquisite art film with Sean Bean stealing it
This beautiful visionary art film based on the director's take of the life of Caravaggio was worth the almost 7 years it took to make it. Derek Jarman had the brilliant sense to use Nigel Terry and Sean Bean as the lovers in this meditation on sexuality, criminality and art. This film is more of a fictionalization on Caravaggio using the artist's works as a way to pursue the story of the artist. It is beautiful, as are the actors and actresses, and Sean Bean is a revelation in this very early role, as he plays Ranucio, the love interest of Caravaggio. When he is on screen he steals the movie, as his animal magnetism, sexual energy, and wild persona grip the film and propel the story forward. This is an adult film with homosexual themes and might not be for everyone, but if one is adult and has a sense of taste, and loves art movies, this is a 10 out of 10.
Beautiful to look at, but lacking a third dimension
What we know of Caravaggio suggests a strutting brawler with a healthy sense of entitlement who lived amongst whores and thieves and hustlers and put them on canvas. His works' themes were sex, death, redemption, above all, finding the sacred within the profane. He lived at a time where homosexuality carried a death sentence and political intrigue normally involved fatalities in a society defined by the maxim "strangling the boy for the purity of his scream".You can't fault Derek Jarman for his cinematography, nor his recreations of Caravaggio's paintings and you certainly can't accuse the man of shying away from the homosexuality. But frankly, Jarman never strays beyond 80s caricature. Italian patronage becomes the 80s London art scene complete with pretty waiters and calculators. Sean Bean is a sexy bit of Northern rough oiling his motorbike. Tilda Swinton performs a transformation worthy of a Mills and Boons ("Why, Miss Lena, without that gypsy headscarf, you're beautiful..."). Jarman provides Caravaggio with a particularly trite motive for the murder which left him exiled.This could have been a visually stunning treatment of a man whose life was dangerous, exciting, violent and decadent but who nonetheless elevated the lives of ordinary people to the status of Renaissance masterpieces, looked on by Emperors and Kings. Instead, what you get is Pierre et Gilles do Italy. The pretty bodies of young boys are shown to perfection, but never the men who inhabit them. Jarman appears to satirise the London art scene, showing it shallow and pretentious. To use Caravaggio and Renaissance Italy to make the point is to use a silk purse to make a pig's ear. In fairness, this film remains visually stunning, but ultimately as two dimensional as the paintings it describes.
Poetic and haunting film
Derek Jarman has crafted a beautiful and unique work of art in "Caravaggio". Perhaps the fact that I have a great love for the work of the real Michelangelo Caravaggio, influences my judgment just a bit; It was quite enjoyable to see the paintings come to life, and to witness how they might have actually been created. In fact, much of Jarmans poetic film has the look of a lush, living painting. There is much to admire here besides the aesthetics; the talented and beautiful cast, led by Nigel Terry, the intense-looking Sean Bean, as Ranuccio, and the elegant Tilda Swinton, as Lena; the woman loved by two very passionate, and tormented men. The acting is all around excellent, but Nigel Terry as Michelangelo really stands out. He is great to watch, and brings life to a man the world knows not so much about. Also actor Dexter Fletcher was quite funny and likable in his portrayal of the younger Caravaggio. More than a historical, biographical account of the painter, this is more the study of a classic love triangle. Caravaggio's models were mostly street people, many of them also criminals, and it seemed that he often became personally involved with his subjects. His love for 'Lena' seems to be as strong, if not stronger, than his love for 'Ranuccio'. And this divided love has tragic consequences, for all involved. I didn't find "Caravaggio" an overly gay film, as the subject wasn't focused on obsessively, like other films of this nature tend to do. The love affair between Lena and Michelangelo was given as much attention as the relationship between him and Ranuccio. Therefore those who might feel a little uncomfortable with the subject matter, need not be, as it is actually quite accessible. Recommended, especially for admirers of the painter Caravaggio. As mentioned earlier, there are scenes that are modeled exactly on the paintings. To see these come alive is really something to behold. There is a new region 2 DVD from Germany that features the most beautiful transfer I have ever seen of any film. It comes close to "High Definition" quality, I recommend this as well.
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